Cars powered by the sun set for Oz

A batch of road-worthy vehicles powered by the sun will make their way to our shores later this month to take part in the Veolia World Solar Challenge.  

The race, which takes place from October 16 to 23, will see solar cars traverse the country – starting in Darwin and crossing the finish line some 3000km away in Adelaide. Competitors build self-efficient solar cars and race for gold in an effort to further solar-energy efficiency and raise awareness on the importance of alternative fuels.

The hip-pocket impact

According to FamilyCar, some of Australia’s most fuel-efficient vehicles are hovering around 4L/100km for consumption. At around $1.40 per litre, that’s $168 per trip. And if you drove 15,000km for the year, you’re looking at a fuel bill of $840, which can easily be the price of car insurance – or part of the cost to upgrade to a hybrid – for many Australians.

While not everyone can afford to shell out for a solar or electric vehicle, or build their own, there are a few lessons to be learned that could shave thousands off your motoring bill.

Tips for greener driving

For similar savings, try these quick tips to cut your own fuel consumption this year:

  • Track your fuel consumption – firstly understand how your car consumes fuel, and what you can expect from a standard litre.
  • Reduce your speed – the faster you drive, the less efficiently you use your fuel. Following speed limits and using cruise control on highways will add dollars to your trips.
  • Avoid idling – if you plan to stop for more than 60 seconds, turn off your engine. Unnecessary idling is an easy burner of fuel.
  • Spare the air conditioning – think about opening a window or using the ventilation to cut up to 20 percent of your fuel consumption.
  • Load less – driving around with heavy loads that you don’t need is just tipping your fuel money down the drain.
  • Carpool – nothing saves fuel like having fewer cars on the road. Arrange trips to work or events together with your friends and family to really reduce the community bill.

After a few months of practising this, the savings for your wallet will start to become noticeable. But the most important thing is that these habits will save years of carbon emissions for the world – no car insurance policy can beat that.

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Learn more about car insurance

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance.